By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A small goat was nearly decapitated and another goat died from a "heinous" knife attack on the animals in a fenced and locked site where they had been placed to graze on weeds in northern Idaho, a police spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
A third goat is being treated for a knife wound in its back from the attack earlier this week in Coeur d'Alene, said Suzanne Forte, founder of the goat rental company which provides weed abatement to the city.
"It is a horrible animal abuse case and extremely rare," said Coeur d'Alene Police Department Sergeant Christie Wood. "It is a heinous crime."
The knifing of the 2-foot-high goats has ignited outrage among residents, who routinely take their children to the site where the attack occurred, a four-acre (1.6-hectare) plot at a city water well site where a herd of herbivores ate unwanted plants and trotted toward onlookers to be petted, Forte said.
"People are really upset. What kind of person tries to cut the head off a sweet little goat that never did any harm?" Forte said.
One goat died when its head was nearly severed in the attack, which is believed to have occurred between Monday night and Tuesday morning, while a second goat later was euthanized to relieve its suffering from deep knife wounds, police said.
The dead pair of goats weighed less than 100 pounds (45 kg) and were Boer goats, a breed with white bodies and brown heads that are known for being friendly, Forte said.
They were part of a band of various breeds that for the past several years have been rented by the city as well as private property owners to consume vegetation, in a growing national trend of using grazers such as goats instead of herbicides to control weeds, she said.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Sandra Maler)